Ten Challenges From "Can't Hurt Me" By David Goggins

"Can't hurt me" is a biography book written by David Goggins, a Navy SEAL and an ultramarathon runner. He outlines his life story from being a depressed overweight pest control fumigator to training to become Navy SEAL, persisting through three attempts and then training to become an ultramarathon runner.

"You are in danger of living a life so comfortable and soft that you will die without ever realizing your true potential."

The book has popularized "The 40 percent rule" : we only use 40% of our potential and most of us will never live up to our true potential. Goggins lists ten challenges, one at the end of each chapter to push beyond the 40% potential. You can find other people's journey through these challenges on social media by searching with #canthurtme or #davidgoggins tags.

The 40 Percent Rule
The 40 Percent Rule

The Ten Challenges:

  1. Bad hand : What are the past and present circumstances that challenge your life? List down the bad hand you were dealt when you were born or in childhood and what is stopping you now from growing?
  2. Accountability mirror : List out your limitations and goals by breaking them down on post-its and stick to them to a mirror. Make yourself accountable to the current goal on the post-it and keep moving to the next goals.
  3. Uncomfortable list : List all the small and big things that make you uncomfortable, especially those that are good for you and do them more to callous your mind.
  4. Taking souls : Who is your current opponent - teacher, boss, client etc? Turn the tables by dominating through excellence, surpass their expectations. Make them see what you can achieve, what they couldn't have done themselves. Fuel yourself with their negativity.
  5. Visualize : Focus on what you can change and visualize achieving/overcoming it. Visualize all the challenges you are likely to face, especially from your own undisciplined mind and have a plan how each one can be tackled when you are at your weakest/toughest stage. Make sure you know the answer to "Why are you doing this?".
  6. Cookie jar : List down all your small and big achievements, the challenges and addictions you have overcome, times you have persisted through till you succeeded. Set ambitious goals and use your last best achievement to take you to the next tough goal.
  7. Keep pushing : The only way to move beyond your 40 percent is to keep raising the bar everyday, chasing the pain(uncomfortable list). Keep moving your baseline up, by pushing past your normal stopping point.
  8. Compartmentalize and schedule : Don't multitask, focus 100% on your current task. Schedule your day in 15-30 minute slots. Kill your empty habits. Schedule your rest time. Include your 'backstops' - realize when a task over-bleeds into another time slot and immediately transition to the priority task.
  9. Uncommon amongst the uncommon : Greatness evaporates, don't stop by feeling that you have 'finally arrived'. Don't give in to complacency, be prepared to stand alone, be prepared to swat away those one second decisions to stay in the game and keep tapping into your 60%.
  10. Failures: List down all the failures, the good and the bad things about them, their effect on you. File your After Action Report(a bit like Root Cause Analysis) for each. Study them, make a list of the things you can fix and schedule your next attempt as soon as possible. Be prepared for your snowballing weaknesses that will all surface under high stress and get ahead of them. Visualize all the obstacles you may face. We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training. Don't allow setbacks to shatter your focus or distract you. Be ready to adjust, recalibrate, and stay after your goals.

It’s about wanting it like there’s no tomorrow—because there might not be.

We’re either getting better or we’re getting worse. 

Life is a mind-game. The only person you are playing against is yourself.



  1. “The most important conversation the one you have with yourself.” – David Goggins
    read more quotes by david goggins


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